It was barely a month ago that the Stadion An der Alten Försterei in Berlin was filled with joy: The Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics National Games Berlin 2022 and our "Faces of the Games" Robert Herberg and Lilly Binder right in the middle of it.
With the torch in their hands, they walk through the football stadium in front of 11,000 spectators. A glow pervades the Opening Ceremony of the biggest inclusive sporting event of the year.
Robert Herberg and Lilly Binder will later speak of an incredible feeling, a privilege and personal highlight. "We will probably only experience this once in a lifetime," surmises the younger Binder.
In the spring, athlete Herberg and Unified partner Binder had been selected to show their faces for the Special Olympics National Games.
The time was an absolute highlight in my life.
For five month, cyclist Herberg and track and field athlete Binder represented this colorful festival of sports and encounters until its conclusion on 24 June 2022.
The time flew by. "It was marked by joy and curiosity," says Herberg. "An absolute highlight in my life," describes 14-year-old Binder. They got to know their new roles with fun and lots of laughter.
Their tasks: Advocating for sports for people with and without disabilities. At press conferences, at sponsor meetings, at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
They talk about the power of sport, team spirit and participation. Because that is what made them become "Faces of the Games."
For them, sport and inclusion belong together. Both are also committed to this outside of their roles: Binder at SG Schwanebeck, Herberg at SG RBO Berlin.
Sport creates new perspectives and personal highlights. The two "Faces of the Games" were able to experience this just this year. The summer in Berlin was a special one for them.
Herberg cycled the fastest time over the 2km and achieved gold in his performance class. Binder ran in the Unified Relay, where boys and girls with and without disabilities compete together.
"All four of us on the relay team improved as well. We all ran a little tad faster than we did in training. We are all very proud of that," says she.
After the Games, normal life has her back. The everyday tasks of work and school. Friends and family are already waiting. Summer vacation is looming.
Robert Herberg is planning a cycling tour along the Baltic Sea and hiking in the Swiss mountains with his father, ten days in Tenerife are on the agenda for Lilly Binder: "I also enjoy spending time with the horses almost every day, which I take care of as part of a riding partnership," she says.
The two have now already experienced an exciting journey. As "Faces of the Games", they have learned many new things, it has matured both of them, shaped them. "The summer will be filled with stories of what we experienced," says Robert Herberg, "while all of Germany was a guest in Berlin to do sports together."
When something comes to an end, a new chapter always begins. And the big bang is yet to come: the Special Olympics World Games 2023 - a new summer in Berlin.